PLEASE READ THESE NOTES BEFORE YOU START ON THE CHAPTER.

First and foremost, I want to be extremely clear about one thing: this story is NOT mine.

Yep, you heard me right. This story is not a fanfiction I've come up with, nor a fic that I've written with my own hands. Instead, the one who wrote and posted it first is another author who used to write on the site and with whom I've been in touch for quite a while now. The one who originally published this story is an author called "Serafeim". Due to some unfortunate events and some very weird bugs, he decided to abandon the site and his account, and he asked me to post the story in his stead. Since I've known him for a while and I've previously helped him a bit by giving him some writing tips and beta-reading his works, I accepted the request. But I want to be very clear on this: this story does not belong to me.

1)- I'm not the one who wrote this story. Consequently, I do not take credit for it. All I'm going to do is post the chapters as soon as the original author sends them to me. And while I do intend to help him with the writing and the beta-reading of the story, the plot and the unfolding of this fic will be entirely up to him. I'm aware of what he's planning to do, more or less, but please keep this in mind: I'm not the mastermind behind this story, and I'm simply posting the fic for him.

2)- The original author will read the reviews and will answer to your comments through me. He will also reply to your questions with some statements at the end of each chapter. That much I can assure you. I will also share with him any eventual PMs (Private Messages) you'll send to me, so that he will be able to reply to you through me and vice versa.

3)- Since I'm not the one writing the story, the update schedule will not be decided by me. My role is to simply post every chapter as soon as the author sends them to me. Once I'll be finished fixing and adjusting them, I'll post them right away. However, again, if you have any questions, doubts and things you wish to tell me, I will always answer and make sure your questions reach the original author in case it is requested.

4)- As those of you who are already familiar with me will surely notice, the writing style and the format of this fic are extremely similar to those I've used in my stories. That is no coincidence. As I've mentioned above, I've been helping Serafeim with this story from the beginning, even if we never intended to share a full collaboration like this at first. Thus: he took inspiration from my works and I gave him permission to use quotes, lines and even the style that I used for my stories. To inspire other authors is an honor to me, and I am not against this choice. After all, I did it myself with a lot of authors in the past, as you guys know.

5)- Please read the notes at the end of each chapter, for they are written by the original author. They might also help you clarify some doubts and questions about the story and its plot.

Comments and criticisms are always appreciated, especially constructive ones, but please keep in mind the words of these notes. Also, English is not our main language, so please bear with us. Me and Serafeim are not native speakers, so if there are mistakes, then let me know and I'll fix them as soon as I can.

And of course, I do not take credit from Danmachi and its characters. The rights and credits go to the original authors, and the rightful credit of this story goes to Serafeim. I want this to be very clear.

Hope you enjoy.


Is it Wrong to Try to Stay the Farthest Away from the Dungeon?
-Chapter One-

Unexpected News

Labyrinth City of Orario
Date: Year 10XX

(======)

"Something's happening."

The elder god's soft-spoken words echoed through the darkness.

Ouranos' bulging eyes were fixed on the Dungeon spread beneath his feet.

"Yes. The floors of the Dungeon are shaking; the monsters are stirring. People can feel the earthquakes even beyond Orario's walls."

The reply came from a fist-sized crystal. It was an Oculus, and on the other side of the magic item was Fels, the Foolish Sage, currently located into the deep levels of the Dungeon. The Oculus was placed in the Chamber of Prayers beneath the Guild Headquarters, allowing the two beings to talk to each other despite the distance.

Ouranos – the god who offered prayers to the Dungeon – may not have been perfect, but he did have a grasp of the general situation. Or, more accurately, he sensed a certain feeling inside his heart and mind. The feeling of something looming over the city, coming from somewhere far away. Somewhere even beyond his sight and perception. And it wasn't a good feeling. Whatever it was, it felt weird. It felt dangerous. This current feeling was enough to fill Orario's founding god with extreme foreboding.

"Indeed. The Dungeon is reacting to something," he pondered. "Yet, I cannot detect what is causing its movements. Whatever it is, the cause for this stirring does not come from the Dungeon."

A terrifyingly rapid earthquake shook the floor and walls of the Chamber. The god remained impassive, even as a few debris of stone and marble fell down from the ceiling. From the outside, he could feel the people screaming and crying in fear. The waves were growing stronger by the moment.

"I can't believe it… considering the power of these earthquakes, it must be something huge!" Fels exclaimed. At the moment, he was accompanying the Xenos towards the higher floors, heading towards the man-made dungeon of Knossos. He sounded both puzzled and scared as he spoke. "At this rate, the weakest floors are going to suffer an enormous amount of damage. They could even collapse on themselves! Even Lydo and the others are terrified! Ouranos― what is happening?"

For once, the elder deity had no answer to that question. Even an omniscient god, and the founding god of Orario at that, could not parse the details of what was happening to the Dungeon when the cause of such ruckus fell so far beyond established understanding. The god and his allies on the surface were able to grasp only that an irregularity was occurring, even if they could not fathom why.

His blue eyes narrowed all of a sudden.

"Don't tell me… no, it cannot be. It's impossible," he muttered to himself.

The face of the wizened god, who was mockingly called the "immovable one" by the other deities, twisted into an unmistakable grimace.

"What will you do, Ouranos?"

"…I'll send a message to Royman. Tell him to send reinforcements to Babel's first floor. I also want every Familia who's able to fight to gather at the Guild's entrance. Even if they are unable to resolve the situation, we need to know what is happening."

"But sending Adventurers here will only make it worse! If the waves won't stop and the floors collapse, they might end up being trapped inside! It's not only the Xenos and the monsters… the entire Dungeon is moaning! It is screaming and raging, Ouranos! This is something completely unprecedented!"

The voice emanating from the crystal was filled with anxiety and terror. Ouranos realized that immediately. The screams and shouts coming from the outside were growing louder and louder, to the point of overcoming even the frightening roars of the tremors.

With steeled resolve, the god clenched his fists. "I will do all I can… even if it ends in failure."

The four torches surrounding the altar swallowed up the will of the deity. From his throne, Ouranos turned his blue eyes towards the darkness above.

"I fear something is happening with the King of Monsters."


Gods cannot have children.

It was an established fact. Something considered a well-known truth among all the races of the world ever since the deities had decided to descend on the lower world, a thousand years ago. Everyone knew that, no matter who they were and where they lived, for it was common knowledge. An undisputed fact throughout all the world.

After all, Gods and mortals were completely separate beings, living on a different world, on a different time, on a different level. They lived and existed with different laws, with different rules, and with different roles. As such, even their existences lived on two opposed planes entirely. Their lives were too divergent, their existences too separate to be able to reproduce. It was so obvious that everyone understood that.

Thus: Gods and mortals could never have children with each other, for it was impossible. And that was the indisputable truth.

It was simply not meant to be.

The Gods – and the Spirits, for that matter – had been rendered unable to give forth life due to their superior existence. The world simply saw them in a different way, on a different light, compared to the mortals. And as such… it could not allow them to give birth and reproduce, for that simply could not be allowed due to their powers and roles.

"Gods cannot have children."

That was the decree of the world. A law that no mortal, no God, and no Spirit could ever hope to break.

――――or so they thought.

Many, among the countless deities of the pantheons, saw this condition as a deficiency. As a flaw. For that reason, upon descending on the lower world and meeting the mortals that roamed on the earth, they easily began to be attracted to them, for the people of the world were so different compared to them. They were so simple, and yet so strong. So passionate. So free, despite being mortals. They were completely different beings compared to the ever-living Spirits and deities.

As such, the Gods easily fell in love with them. Not just in a romantic way, but in the whole sense of the term. They wished to live and stand next to them. They wished to help them grow and mature; for mortals could often be able to entertain the Gods in the most enjoyable ways, and Gods were always willing to lend a helping hand as long as they could be entertained.

Thus, in order to help the mortals grow stronger and better, the Gods began to give forth their grace, their blessing, to them. They gave forth Falna to the mortals, adopting them into Familias and taking them under their protection. Those with a Falna could gather excelia to raise their status and grow stronger, which in turn bestowed strength, magic, and power on them to make them more powerful and create Heroes; a concept to which the Gods were always fixated on.

In a way… they connected with them. By bestowing a Falna and creating Familias with them, the Gods successfully managed to have "children" of their own. It was a small sort of revenge, in a way. A form of silent and intrinsic protest against the law of the world that had cursed them with the inability to reproduce and bring forth life on their own. But they were fine with it, because mortals were extremely amusing beings, so similar to them and yet so different. So much so that many Gods decided to leave Heaven and descend on the lower world even if that meant to renounce to their Arcanum and their powers.

But that was fine with them. As long as they could connect with mortals and live with them, the Gods were satisfied. Gods and mortals loved each other. They were mutually attracted to each other. And that was more than enough. Even if they could not reproduce, and even if the deities were fated to watch their beloved children die with time, it was enough.

Driven by necessity and desire, the Gods had successfully found a way to connect with mortals and adopt them as their children. Even if they could never have "true" children of their own.

And yet, every story has its exception.

For there was a Spirit who once managed to bear a child of her own…

and there was a God who once managed to do the same long after her.

This is the tale of that exception.

A tale that no one knows. The one told in hushed whispers. The one never recorded.

A tale that is not heroic nor glorious, but dark and sorrowful as the night.

Even if no one is aware of it, even if the world would never acknowledge it, the tale of that exception remains true.

This one tale, this one secret ― it shall be narrated here, in the only place it is allowed.

The truth that the world has always rejected.

That which never received a voice.

And was never granted an outlet.

Here, it shall be allowed to be told and heard.

For many people will end up being involved in it.


Orario, the Labyrinth City.

Also known as the Center of the World; the city of legends where dreams come true, and where Heroes had ballads written in their honor. It was the only city in the world that had a Dungeon, and also the undisputed destination of countless people of all races. Humans, dwarves, elves, demi-humans and many other races came to this place every day from all the corners of the globe, seeking wealth and fortune or – much more frequently – aiming to join a Familia and become Adventurers. It was a process that had been going on for centuries and that still showed no sign of abating even after all these years.

Countless were the Familias who resided within the city. Some of them were powerful and famous, others more small and restricted, and some even completely unknown to the public eye. What was certain, however, was that their number was incalculable; and the fact that all of them were ruled and lead by very powerful and peculiar beings. The immortal entities descended from the very same realm of Heaven: the gods.

Said gods who were, at this moment, utterly confused and terrified by what was happening on the lower world of their children. The entire city of Orario was constantly shaken by earthquakes, throwing the entire population into total panic. Seismic tremors had been following one another at irregular intervals of time for more than twenty minutes now, so powerful and incessant in their release that they visibly threatened the stability of the districts and caused numerous buildings to collapse. Even the very same Tower of Babel had started to crack and moan under this incessant assault. Everyone had been ordered to evacuate the Tower, including the Gods and Familias who resided there like the Freya Familia.

Civilians, Adventurers, and everyone who lived in the city had fallen into panic. Even the Ganesha Familia and the guards of the Guild themselves didn't know what to do; while at the same time more and more earthquakes shook the earth and more and more noises and gruesome moans could be heard coming from the Dungeon. It was complete chaos, spreading throughout the city for some unknown reason. Never before had such a situation occurred in Orario's entire history. Everyone was frightened and perplexed, especially the civilians, since they could not fathom what was happening and why.

In other words, it was an unprecedented situation, and as such, no one knew how to respond.

Finn Deimne, also known as the Braver and the Captain of the Loki Familia, did not like it one bit.

"Aaaaah! What the hell is this?"

"Loki, please calm down."

The blonde pallum sighed as he pinched his nose, ignoring his goddess' constant rambling.

Currently, he, Riveria, Gareth and most of the rest of their Familia were gathered in front of the so-called "Pantheon", the main building of the Guild and the main meeting point for Adventurers aside from the Tower of Babel and the entrance of the Dungeon. But they weren't the only ones there. Plenty of other Familias had been summoned in this place just like them, flooding the main square and street of Orario and gathering in front of the Guild, waiting.

In addition to the Loki Familia, Finn could clearly see members of the Hephaestus Familia, the Familias of Miach and Takemakazuchi, and – a sight that definitely put him on edge – the entirety of Freya Familia as well, along with countless others. The Braver had never seen so many Adventurers gathered in a single place in years, not since the Evilus War which had happened several years prior, and this could not mean anything good. His thumb had started throbbing quite a while ago.

His eyes narrowed as he shot a glance at Ottar and his Familia Executives on the western side of the square. Many gods had gathered here along with their children, but much to his confusion, he could not see Freya anywhere, even if the majority of her children were already here along with the King. Finn mentally assumed that she had been escorted somewhere safe by the rest of her Familia.

The strongest pallum of the city closed his eyes in attempt to keep focused. No, he definitely didn't like this situation. And his goddess' constant apprehension was not helping either.

"Captain… I'm scared," an Amazoness with dark green eyes and long brown hair stepped closer to him, her face visibly tense as she glanced around along with the rest of their companions. "What is happening all of sudden?"

For once, Finn had no answer to his fellow Familia member. "I don't know, Tione. But it is our duty to find out," he sighed, trying to keep focused as his blue eyes opened and remained fixed on the Guild's entrance.

Another earthquake shook the ground all of sudden, and several people among the crowd of Adventurers cried and startled in panic. In a distant district, the crash of a collapsing building could be heard all the way here. Screams and shouts followed suit.

Bete Loga, the werewolf of their group, spat on the ground with a snarl; his eyes fixed on the Tower's direction. "Tch. What the hell are we doing?" he growled in clear irritation. "These tremors are coming from the freaking Dungeon. We should be heading in there and find out what's happening instead of wasting time here!"

Clearly, this fact did not sit well with him. At all.

"For once, I agree with our dumb wolf," the other Amazoness – Tiona – said in a worried tone. She exchanged a nod with her sister, snickering a bit when they saw Bete round on them with an enraged face.

"Hah?! Who are you calling dumb, you bitch?"

"Calm down," Gareth ordered sternly, slamming the pommel of his Grand Axe on the ground. "The Guild has summoned us all here. There must be a reason."

Loki sighed in frustration. "But still! This suspense is literally killing me!" the goddess of mischief exclaimed. "Monsters are screaming inside the Dungeon, the city is threatened by earthquakes, and no one knows what's going on! I even heard that the Guild is ordering all the Adventurers to leave the Tower and the Dungeon no matter the floor they were in! I want to know what's going on. I want to knoooow!" she moaned like a petulant child.

Riveria Ljos Alf, Top Executive and Vice-Captain of their Familia, widened her eyes slightly. "Leaving the Dungeon? What about the people in Rivira?"

"They're being escorted back to the surface as we speak," Finn answered, crossing his arms with a scowl. "The Ganesha Familia is working on it."

Next to Finn, a young elf with long golden yellow hair, round dark blue eyes and pointy ears gulped nervously. "I-I have a bad feeling about this. This can't mean anything good," Lefiya Viridis muttered, her hands clasped tightly around her staff in a nervous gesture. A trickle of sweat ran down her beautiful face. "What do you think, Aiz-san?"

No answer came from the last member of their current group. Seeing the silence, both Lefiya and Finn turned towards the girl in question.

Aiz Wallenstein, a very beautiful woman with long golden hair and eyes, and a slender body. Just like the rest of their Familia, she wore her battle attire and her sword was already strapped to her side, ready to be drawn at the first sign of trouble. She was usually quiet and cold, but even the Braver could see that the girl was tense right now. Extremely tense. Ever since the earthquakes had begun, she had been quieter and more vigilant than usual.

But it wasn't her silence what surprised him. Finn immediately noticed the girl's narrowed and stoic eyes aimed towards the right, fixed on something distant. The Captain of the Loki Familia followed her gaze, and he felt his own eyebrows furrow a little. As expected…

The Hestia Familia had joined the crowd as well, led by the goddess herself and a white-haired boy wearing a light armor.

Bell Cranel.

Upon seeing them, the Familias of Miach and Takemakazuchi, who were particularly close to Hestia, immediately moved to join them. The Goddess Hephaestus joined as well.

Aiz reacted silently. Without any discernible warning and sparing just a single glance at Finn, she moved towards the Hestia Familia location as well, walking amid the crowd with a slow pace. Her other Familia members watched her with various degrees of stupor.

"W-Wait, Aiz-san!"

"Leave her be, Lefiya," Finn stopped her with a raised hand, his expression perfectly neutral. "She just wants to check on him. I'll go as well. There's something I would like to ask to goddess Hestia."

Loki opened her eyes slightly, staring at him long and hard. The suspicion on her face was subtle, but Finn didn't miss it. "What kind of answers could you ever expect to get from Chibi?" she demanded.

Braver ignored the goddess with a blank face.

Riveria gave a nod in his direction. "Go. We'll wait for you here."

Finn nodded as well, and then he headed in the same direction Aiz had walked into. While he followed the Sword Princess amid the crowd of Adventurers, he stopped. As soon as Aiz reached Bell and his companions, the pallum decided to hide amid the crowd, waiting a few moments before joining the group. He could also hear their conversation thanks to his well-developed hearing in spite of the people gathering around them.

Bell Cranel's voice was the first one he could hear. "A-Aiz-san!"

"Bell. Are you ok?"

"Wha-? Yes, of course! We were just startled by the earthquakes like everyone else, but we're fine. What about you? Are you ok? And your Familia?"

"Yes. Thank goodness."

Finn frowned a little as he heard the conversation while he made his way towards the group. Hearing his sincere concern only served to increase the suspicion growing inside his head. As he got closer, he could begin to hear the voices of the others joining in as well.

"Aiz Wallenwhateveritis! Why are you here?! And get away from my precious Bell!"

"I just wanted to make sure he's fine."

"Aiz-san, d-don't tell me… you were worried about me?"

"I was."

"Eeeeeeeh?!"

Finn sighed in mild amusement.

"Bell-sama! Why are you blushing in front of the Sword Princess? And here Lily thought you were not a philanderer!"

"Lily! I'm not a philanderer! I swear!"

That's when the Captain of the Loki Familia decided to enter the discussion.

"Pardon my fellow Familia member's intrusion, goddess Hestia," Finn said with a cheerful tone – a fake one, but one that very few could directly discern and see through – offering a small bow to the tiny goddess and the rest of the group. Among them, apart from Bell Cranel and the goddess, the strongest pallum of the city easily recognized Welf Crozzo, Yamato Mikoto, Sanjouno Haruhime and Liliruca Arde. "She has been quite worried ever since the… incident," he spoke in a polite tone.

Everyone in the group tensed upon seeing his approach and hearing his greeting. Braver didn't need to be smart to know that they had immediately realized what kind of 'incident' he was referring to.

The recent mess that had happened with the intelligent monsters a few days prior, and the battle of Daedalus Street.

The Xenos incident.

Finn merely smiled when he saw Welf and Mikoto taking a small step forward, placing themselves next to Bell and Hestia respectively with a wary expression on their face while everyone else tensed slightly. Haruhime hid herself a little behind Bell's frame, and Lily openly glared at the fellow pallum with narrowed eyes. The Braver shrugged off their stares as if they were nothing, ignoring even Aiz's conflicted expression.

He extended a hand towards Bell. "Congratulations on reaching level 4, Bell Cranel. I heard the news the other day," he spoke with that same smile still planted on his face. "About your new name as well. Rabbit Foot. It has a nice ring to it."

Bell was extremely tense and uncomfortable as he shook his hand. "A-Ah. T-Thank you very much… Mr. Finn."

"Master Finn," Liliruca Arde cut them off abruptly, still glaring daggers at him. "Why are you here?"

The blonde pallum laughed a bit sheepishly under her hostile glare. "Hahah, there's no need to be so wary. I just wanted to ask you something. More specifically, to your goddess Hestia," he explained with a polite tone, raising his hands in a placating gesture. He knew there was some sort of tension right now between him and Lily, and not only due to his past marriage proposal. So, he decided to play it safe.

Hestia crossed her arms, her face a mask of suspicion. "Braver, huh? What does Loki's child want with me?" she asked, direct and resolute, just as it was expected from a troublesome deity.

Finn stared straight into her eyes. "The phenomena happening inside the Dungeon right now," he stated, looking and sounding deadly serious. "They're not related to your… acquaintances, right?"

Everyone tensed immediately, especially Bell and Hestia. Even Ais narrowed her eyes.

There was no need to specify who – or what, depending on how you saw it – he was referring to.

The Xenos. Intelligent monsters.

Much to her credit, the goddess Hestia managed to recollect herself in a split-second. Her eyes openly glared at him as the air around her dropped several degrees. "I have no idea of what you're implying, Braver," she stated with a low tone of voice, both her face and voice dangerously cold. Braver didn't miss the silent threat that was implied with her words. The message was clear.

One more word about them and I'm not gonna let it slide.

Finn cared not about her silent threats. However, even if the tension in air was clearly palpable right now, his years of experience and his trained eyes could also detect confusion and worry in Bell and his companions' faces after digesting his question. And that made him pause for a moment. Because he could not see deceit in their eyes, no matter how hard he searched. Thus, as much as he hated to admit it, his suspicions were well founded.

This was not something linked to the intelligent monsters they had failed to capture before. Or, even if it was, Hestia and her Familia were not aware of it.

As I thought, this time they have no idea of what's going on either, Finn pondered inside his head, keeping his expression neutral. And while that is somehow reassuring, it also means that the situation is more worrying than I thought. Good grief. This cannot be good.

"Very well," he sighed with an apologetic smile. He could see that Hestia and the others were not involved in this mess, at least this time. Everyone visibly relaxed as he decided to relent. "I apologize. I was merely worried―"

Whatever he was about to say was abruptly interrupted when the crowd began to grow quiet and tense.

Finn, Aiz, Bell and the others turned their attention to the Guild's entrance, confused by the sudden shift in the air, and they immediately noticed the change.

A fat Elf with white hair, green eyes, and short legs had just exited the building: Royman Mardeel, the head of the Guild himself. He was followed by Eina Tulle, Rose Fannett and other staff members, along with the god Ganesha, his Captain Shakti and a few guards from the Ganesha Familia. As soon as everyone took notice of them, the crowd quieted and all the Adventurers waited with bathed breath even as the rumble of the earthquakes continued to echo all around the city.

"Everyone listen up!" Royman ordered, his voice calm but authoritative. "Those you're about to hear are direct orders from Ouranos. You may ask your questions if there's something that needs to be clarified, but do so only after we've finished explaining!"

Finn narrowed his eyes and bit his thumb while Riveria, Gareth and the rest of his Familia immediately moved to join him. They all shared a silent glance while Loki and Hestia glared at each other.

Here goes nothing.

"As you can see, the city is clearly in danger. These earthquakes are threatening Orario's stability, and civilians are growing worried," Royman stated with a high tone of voice, speaking louder so that all the Adventurers could hear. "Unfortunately, neither Ouranos nor the Guild were able to locate the threat, nor to understand what is causing such a mess. However, there is no doubt about one thing: whatever is happening here is being caused by the Dungeon. And we must discover what it is and put an end to it before the city suffers extreme damage."

A few murmurs ran among the crowd. Finn remained focused and silent while Bell and the others exchanged a worried glance with each other. Ais remained completely still as well.

Royman raised a hand to quiet them down. "The Gansha Familia will stay here and focus their efforts to defend the civilians along with a few others that I will list to you later. But on the other hand, Ouranos has ordered that all the major Familias in the city are to enter the Dungeoun in order to discover the source of the crisis and put a stop to it as soon as possible."

Braver inwardly sighed. He was already expecting this kind of decision from the Guild. Not that he couldn't understand where they were coming from, though. He could clearly see why Ouranos had taken that decision. Entering the Dungeon had suddenly become extremely dangerous for the majority of Adventurers right now, so it was only logical that only the strongest ones would be allowed to go inside and search for a solution.

"I will now list the Familias who are being ordered to enter the Dungeon," the fat elf declared solemnly, opening a small scroll with his hands and reading its content out loud. "Those who are allowed in the expedition are the following: Freya and Loki Familias, Hephaestus and Aphrodite Familias; Hermes and Ra Familias, and… the Hestia Familia."

That last name left Finn a bit confused. And he wasn't the only one who felt surprised by the news.

"What?! We're being called too?" Lily exclaimed in clear disbelief, her eyes wide and her mouth agape.

For once, Loki and Hestia shared the same reaction.

"Huuuh?! Why are Chibi's/my children allowed in the Dungeon?" they both exclaimed at the same time.

Judging by the shocked faces of Bell, Welf and his fellow Familia members, they weren't the only ones stunned by that revelation.

As I suspected, Ouranos wants to bring the Hestia Familia as well, Finn Deimne mused with suspicion, placing a hand under his chin as he pondered in silence. I wonder if this has something to do with those intelligent monsters…

All the while, Royman ignored the loud protests and complaints from many Adventurers, continuing to give his declaration with a loud voice. "All the other Familias will be given more specific orders dedicated to the protection of the city and the defense of civilians and their homes," the head of the Guild stated in utmost seriousness, ignoring the numerous incredulous faces amid the crowd gathered in front of the Guild. "But they will not be granted access inside the Dungeon for their own safety. Among those roles, the Demeter and Goibniu Familias shall―"

He didn't get to finish his sentence.

For in that moment, something unexpected happened.

"WAAAAAAAAIT!"

Finn narrowed his eyes, his head snapping to the left with frightening speed, in direction of the voice who was screaming so desperately. Bell, Aiz, the Loki and Hestia Familias and everyone else amid the crowd soon followed his example.

A chienthrope was running wildly towards the Guild, pushing his way through the crowd of people and Adventurers with a powerful desperation. Everyone was taken aback by his sudden appearance. Fear and terror were clearly visible in his eyes, his face pale and covered with sweat, and even his eyes were as wide as plates behind his glasses.

"WAIT! LET ME THROUGH! LET ME THROUGH!" he was screaming like a madman.

Everyone stared as the chienthrope pushed himself through the entire crowd and finally caught up with Royman and the others, throwing himself on the ground while panting and sweating in what could only be described as sheer fear.

Eina Tulle reached out to him in panicked stupor. "Rehmer-san!" she exclaimed, looking as confused as everyone else was. "What's wrong? What happened?"

The Guild Section Leader wheezed and panted in terror, desperation and fear blossoming on his face while tears began to form on the corner of his eyes.

"It's terrible… this is TERRIBLE, Royman!" Rehmer exclaimed in fear, handing a piece of paper to the Guild Head. A letter. "The guards at Orario's gates received this message a few minutes ago! This is seriously BAD NEWS!"

Royman was clearly confused. "Calm yourself, boy. What happened? What's going on?" he demanded, snatching the letter from the man's hands and furiously starting to read its content.

The chienthrope's face was flowing with tears as he screamed and wept in terror.

"I-I-It's back… the K-King of Monsters is back!" he exclaimed with a desperate voice. "It happened in the city of Preblica! There's no doubt about it!"

Finn felt his thumb begin to throb once again while everyone watched the scene in tense silence. He exchanged a silent look with Riveria, Gareth and Loki. He knew that name. Preblica was a well-known city located next to a river at the foot of the mountains at the borders of the land known as the Empire, far from Orario. Almost on the other side of the continent, to be exact. It was the very first city Loki had visited after coming down to the lower world, and also the very same place where she and Finn had met for the first time, almost 28 years ago.

Braver and his goddess shared a narrowed glance. What is going on there?

Rehmer's face became even more desperate as Royman's eyes widened inhumanly the more he read the letter. "I-I-It's him… it's really him! The One-Eyed Black Dragon has returned!" the chienthrope cried with horror.

Finn and Loki widened their eyes. Bell and Hestia gaped in disbelief. And the entire crowd of Adventurers stared in muted silence.

"THE ONE-EYED BLACK DRAGON IS ATTACKING THE CITY OF PREBLICA!"

Everyone held their breath. Royman fell on his knees. The Guild members stood frozen as statues.

And the entire world fell silent upon hearing Rehmer's declaration.

For what seemed to be an eternity, no one was able to move.

Seconds passed, followed by minutes.

Slowly and hesitantly, Finn turned to his Familia members. He was wide-eyed and stunned; and for once, he discovered with a growing sense of frustration that his horrified expression was shared by all of his friends and Familia Members, along with the rest of the crowd.

The shock and fear were physically palpable in the air.

"A-Aiz… san?"

Bell Cranel's voice broke the silence with a nervous tone.

And much to his growing disbelief, Finn Deimne's thumb began to physically hurt as soon as he turned to a certain Familia member. His eyes widened even more, as did those of Bell, Riveria, Loki and all his friends around him; and everyone stared at the Sword Princess with wide eyes and mouths agape.

The temperature dropped several degrees.

For the look on Aiz Wallenstein's face was a mask of hatred and horror that she had never assumed before that day.


ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S NOTES

As the title clearly states, this is not a story about a boy seeking adventures in the Dungeon.

Let's start with some clarifications: this story takes place between the end of Volume 11 and the beginning of Volume 12 after the whole incident with the Xenos. However, the events from that point on will be different from the Novels. The Gale isn't going on a rampage, Bell hasn't fought the Moss Huge yet, and all the things that happened after those events will not happen here. This plot will be original, even if some things will be similar in the future. I will also take quotes from the novels every now and then, especially during some inner dialogues, so I want to point out that I do not take credit for them.

This fanfiction is the result of an idea that I've had for a long while. I've read many stories about Danmachi, and I've enjoyed a lot of them. However, the majority of the stories I've read seemed to follow the same patterns: either making Bell the protagonist and go adventuring, or using an OC (original character) to increase his role and powers in the plot. That, or making Bell related to evil somehow. Also, there's something that no fanfiction has ever done (or, at least, no fic that I've read so far): actually showing the One-Eyed Black Dragon in the story. And killing it.

I mean, I get it. The dragon is supposed to be a living calamity. The greatest foe of the world of Danmachi. The final boss, basically. In the canon works, killing it must be a nearly impossible feat and I get it. But… this idea kept popping inside of my head. What if we go against the flow? What if we take the dragon out of the picture? In that case, what would happen to the world? To the Dungeon? To Bell and his companions?

And more importantly, what would happen to Aiz?

It feels like everyone is always doing the same thing in fanfictions. The Dragon is constantly on Aiz's mind, her life goal is to slay it and avenge her parent's death, she can never forget it and move on with her life; and so on. Etcetera, etcetera, blah blah blah; I get it. Everyone likes that, and it's totally fine since it's canon; but… what if things were different? What if, hypothetically, she will never slay the beast? What if she couldn't slay the beast? What if that option is suddenly denied to her? What would happen to Aiz in that case, in a world where the Dragon is dead and she can no longer fulfill her life goal no matter what? Well, this is the story of that impossible outcome.

This is not Bell's story (not entirely). It is not a Heroic tale. My protagonist will be an OC, and we'll meet him in the next chapter. His story is going to be different from what you might imagine, and I hope I'll be able to rouse your interest.

But there's one last thing I would like to clarify. A warning.

The main focus of this story will be my OC. He's going to meet Bell and the gang, yes. He's going to have a role in their development, yes. He's going to be extremely powerful, indeed. And yes, he will also end up working at the Hostess of Fertility for some reason, as the description clearly hinted. But the focus – no, the main goal – of the story is to reveal his backstory. That's the main point of the fic: to discover who he is. To learn the truth about his past, his origin, and his name.

Every chapter will add a small fragment about his backstory, slowly but surely, little by little. One piece at a time, bit by bit, in order to complete the puzzle. I want to show my OC's past little by little, leaving small clues and ideas in every chapter with a slow pace. This fic won't be a complex story with epic plots, since I find complexity boring and usually disappointing in most cases, but I wish to make the OC's story… intriguing, I guess. The young man we'll meet in the next chapter is going to be different from a normal adventurer. You'll see.

But yes, we will see some interesting battles along the way. Trouble always follows those who are 'connected' to Bell, after all. But keep in mind the words of these notes: the focus of the fic is to discover the truth about the OC's past.

And no: there will be no Harem in this story. Only one pairing (both for my OC and Bell), as you can read in the description.

If you managed to read the notes to this point, you have my sincerest gratitude. I really hope that this weird story of mine will manage to intrigue you, and I thank all of you who'll have the patience to read this fic despite its defects. I don't consider myself a good author, since this is my first attempt at writing and English is not my native language, but I hope it'll be a fun ride.

Thank you very much. Hope you'll enjoy.